I had come to a place where I was meant to be. I don’t mean anything so prosaic as a sense of coming home. This was different, very different. It was like arriving at a place much safer than home.
After all, this was the place where I’d had my first meaningful conversation with a female, it was the site of a football’s first encounter with my groin, and above all, it was the location where I was first punched in the face by a bully. Somewhere out there, a tooth of mine lay deep within the soil.
I have an idea that some men are born out of their due place. Accident has cast them amid certain surroundings, but they have always a nostalgia for a home they know not. They are strangers in their birthplace, and the leafy lanes they have known from childhood or the populous streets in which they have played, remain but a place of passage. They may spend their whole lives aliens among their kindred and remain aloof among the only scenes they have ever known. Perhaps it is this sense of strangeness that sends men far and wide in the search for something permanent, to which they may attach themselves. Perhaps some deep-rooted atavism urges the wanderer back to lands which his ancestors left in the dim beginnings of history.
When my mother didn't come back I realized that any moment could be the last. Nothing in life should simply be a passage from one place to another. Each walk should be taken as if it is the only thing you have left. You can demand something like this of yourself as an unattainable ideal. After that, you have to remind yourself about it every time you're sloppy about something. For me that means 250 times a day.
I have no idea how long Quisser was gone from the table. My attention became fully absorbed by the other faces in the club and the deep anxiety they betrayed to me, an anxiety that was not of the natural, existential sort but one that was caused by peculiar concerns of an uncanny nature. What a season is upon us, these faces seemed to say. And no doubt their voices would have spoken directly of certain peculiar concerns had they not been intimidated into weird equivocations and double entendres by the fear of falling victim to the same kind of unnatural affliction that had made so much trouble in the mind of the art critic Stuart Quisser. Who would be next? What could a person say these days, or even think, without feeling the dread of repercussion from powerfully connected groups and individuals? I could almost hear their voices asking, "Why here, why now?" But of course they could have just as easily been asking, "Why not here, why not now?" It would not occur to this crowd that there were no special rules involved; it would not occur to them, even though they were a crowd of imaginative artists, that the whole thing was simply a matter of random, purposeless terror that converged upon a particular place at a particular time for no particular reason. On the other hand, it would also not have occurred to them that they might have wished it all upon themselves, that they might have had a hand in bringing certain powerful forces and connections into our district simply by wishing them to come. They might have wished and wished for an unnatural evil to fall upon them but, for a while at least, nothing happened. Then the wishing stopped, the old wishes were forgotten yet at the same time gathered in strength, distilling themselves into a potent formula (who can say!), until one day the terrible season began. Because had they really told the truth, this artistic crowd might also have expressed what a sense of meaning (although of a negative sort), not to mention the vigorous thrill (although of an excruciating type), this season of unnatural evil had brought to their lives.("Gas Station Carnivals")
My vision of the gathered church that had come to me... had been replaced by a vision of the gathered community. What I saw now was the community imperfect and irresolute but held together by the frayed and always fraying, incomplete and yet ever-holding bonds of the various sorts of affection. There had maybe never been anybody who had not been loved by somebody, who had been loved by somebody else, and so on and on... It was a community always disappointed in itself, disappointing its members, always trying to contain its divisions and gentle its meanness, always failing and yet always preserving a sort of will toward goodwill. I knew that, in the midst of all the ignorance and error, this was a membership; it was the membership of Port William and of no other place on earth. My vision gathered the community as it never has been and never will be gathered in this world of time, for the community must always be marred by members who are indifferent to it or against it, who are nonetheless its members and maybe nonetheless essential to it. And yet I saw them all as somehow perfected, beyond time, by one another's love, compassion, and forgiveness, as it is said we may be perfected by grace.
I can understand where he's coming from... I too was once secretly in love with you, and I could do nothing but watch from afar. Being close to you while pretending that we're nothing more than friends. The first time I touched you with sexual intention, it was like an electrical current flowing through my fingertips and it paralyzed me. I wanted to make your senses go numb with pleasure. Not only physical pleasure, but desire too, deep inside.
I . . . hurried to the city library to find out the true age of Chicago. City library! After all, it cannot be anything but Chicagoesque. His is the richest library, no doubt, as everything in Chicago is great in size and wealth. Its million books are filling all the shelves, as the dry goods fill the big stores. Oh, librarian, you furnished me a very good dinner, even ice cream, but—where is the table? The Chicago city library has no solemnly quiet, softly peaceful reading-room; you are like a god who made a perfect man and forgot to put in the soul; the books are worth nothing without having a sweet corner and plenty of time, as the man is nothing without soul. Throw those books away, if you don't have a perfect reading-room! Dinner is useless without a table. I want to read a book as a scholar, as I want to eat dinner as a gentleman. What difference is there, my dearest Chicago, between your honourable library and the great department store, an emporium where people buy things without a moment of selection, like a busy honey bee?The library is situated in the most annoyingly noisy business quarter, under the overhanging smoke, in the nearest reach of the engine bells of the lakeside. One can hardly spend an hour in it if he be not a Chicagoan who was born without taste of the fresh air and blue sky. The heavy, oppressive, ill-smelling air of Chicago almost kills me sometimes. What a foolishness and absurdity of the city administrators to build the office of learning in such place of restaurants and barber shops!Look at that edifice of the city library! Look at that white marble! That's great, admirable; that means tremendous power of money. But what a vulgarity, stupid taste, outward display, what an entire lacking of fine sentiment and artistic love! Ah, those decorations with gold and green on the marble stone spoil the beauty! What a shame! That is exactly Chicagoesque. O Chicago, you have fine taste, haven't you?
I thought that exile meant you had to leave your country and you could go anywhere--somewhere in the sun, a tropical island, say, or America. But exile doesn't mean that; it means you are banished to a specific place, and guess what, that place isn't in the sun and is no paradise, it's not even America. It's some cold, miserable place like Siberia, where you don't know anyone and you can barely survive. It's another prison.
I'm still trying to get them to come up and stay with me, but they won't, ... It's home, their roots, their whole lives. It's kind of hard for me knowing that this has happened and my parents won't leave and there's nothing I can do to get my people up here. It's hurtful every day, stressful.
It was tough coming to the realization that I wasn’t interested in anything, though realizing it didn’t mean I could then immediately find something to engage my interest. I tried to think of something. Maybe I could study a foreign language or study abroad in Rome or somewhere? Or, more realistically, grab some guy I knew and have a destination wedding abroad. But everything I could think of was based on how envious it would make people, not on any genuine interest I might have.
I just want to tell you: the only good thing in these days is that I still believe there’s something good behind all these things. I don’t know what that good thing is but the idea of it keeps me smile. Stories will be finished. Money has its way to come. Admission result will be announced, and if I get rejected, it does not mean I failed (though I’m pretty sure I will cry, either a lot or a little). There will be something good down the road. There is something meaningful hidden in everything plain but stressful around me right now: A lesson to learn, friends to treasure, stories to create, new places to discover and home to go back, chances to grab, opportunities to develop.
It's just this: that there are places we all come from-deep-rooty-common places- that makes us who we are. And we disdain them or treat them lightly at our peril. We turn our backs on them at the risk of self-contempt. There is a sense in which we need to go home again-and can go home again. Not to recover home, no. But to sanctify memory.
She was one of those exceptional children who do still spend time outside, in solitude. In her case nature represented beauty - and refuge. "It's so peaceful out there and the air smells so good. I mean, it's polluted, but not as much as the city air. For me, it's completely different there," she said. "It's like you're free when you go out there. It's your own time. Sometimes I go there when I'm mad - and then, just with the peacefulness, I'm better. I can come back home happy, and my mom doesn't even know why." The she described her special part of the woods. "I had a place. There was a big waterfall and a creek on one side of it. I'd dug a big hole there, and sometimes I'd take a tent back there, or a blanket, and just lie down in the hole, and look up at the trees and sky. Sometimes I'd fall asleep back there. I just felt free; it was like my place, and I could do what I wanted, with nobody to stop me. I used to go down there almost every day." The young poet's face flushed. Her voice thickened. "And then they just cut the woods down. It was like they cut down part of me.
Relationships, like all human experiences, are transient; they change every day and are meant to be enjoyed in the present. When I hear people say you need to "work" at a relationship, what that often really means is just seeing through the day-to-day; listening to another person, listening to yourself, not getting stuck on hurts from the past, and not getting lost in what might come. To be in a relationship with someone you respect, care about and value is a gift, and when you take that in the day-to-day, you honor yourself and your partner each day. Eating is no different in that you can honor yourself at each meal. So much time in relationships is spent hashing the past, and arguing about things that haven't yet happened. A relationship cannot be "hoarded", just like a meal cannot be prolonged by taking home the leftovers.
It's difficult to know where to begin, sir.''Yes, the beginning is the tricky part. But perhaps there is no beginning, perhaps we can't look that far back.' He got up from his desk and went over to the window, from where he could see thin pillar of smoke rising into the clouds. 'I never know where anything comes from, Walter.''Comes from, sir?''Where you come from, where I come from, where all this comes from.' And he gestured at the offices and homes beneath him. He was about to say something else but he stopped, embarrassed; and in any case he was coming to the limits of his understanding. He was not sure if all the movements and changes in the world were part of some coherent development, like the weaving of a quilt which remains one fabric despite its variegated pattern. Or was it a more delicate operation than this - like the enlarging surface of a balloon in the sense that, although each part increased at the same rate of growth as every other part, the entire object grew more fragile as it expanded? And if one element was suddenly to vanish, would the others disappear also - imploding upon each other helplessly as if time itself were unravelling amid a confusion of Sights, calls, shrieks and phrases of music which grew smaller and smaller? He thought of a train disappearing into the distance, until eventually only the smoke and the smell of its engine remained.
I had come to see that the great tragedy in the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor...I truly believe that when the rich meet the poor, riches will have no meaning. And when the rich meet the poor, we will see poverty come to an end.
...I shall let [Anne] Wallace put the case herself, at what I think is necessary length:'As travel in general becomes physically easier, faster, and less expensive, more people want and are able to arrive at more destinations with less unpleasant awareness of their travel process. At the same time the availability of an increasing range of options in conveyance, speed, price, and so forth actually encouraged comparisons of these different modes...and so an increasingly positive awareness of process that even permitted semi-nostalgic glances back at the bad old days...Then, too, although local insularity was more and more threatened...people also quite literally became more accustomed to travel and travellers, less fearful of 'foreign' ways, so that they gradually became able to regard travel as an acceptable recreation. Finally, as speeds increased and costs decreased, it simply ceased to be true that the mass of people were confined to that circle of a day's walk: they could afford both the time and the money to travel by various means and for purely recreational purposes...And as walking became a matter of choice, it became a possible positive choice: since the common person need not necessarily be poor. Thus, as awareness of process became regarded as advantageous, 'economic necessity' became only one possible reading (although still sometimes a correct one) in a field of peripatetic meanings that included 'aesthetic choice'.'It sounds a persuasive case. It is certainly possible that something like the shift in consciousness that Wallace describes may have taken place by the 'end' (as conventionally conceived) of the Romantic period, and influenced the spread of pedestrianism in the 1820s and 1830s; even more likely that such a shift was instrumental in shaping the attitudes of Victorian writing in the railway age, and helped generate the apostolic fervour with which writers like Leslie Stephen and Robert Louis Stevenson treated the walking tour. But it fails to account for the rise of pedestrianism as I have narrated it.